Spotify agrees €280m sponsorship deal with FC Barcelona
In the middle of a PR fire-fight over its backing of Joe Rogan, Spotify has agreed a €280m deal with FC Barcelona that will span three years and include shirt sponsorship for the men’s and women’s teams, as well as stadium naming rights.
Spotify's sponsorship of Barcelona FC is set to come into effect at the end of the current season
The deal is reported to be completed today, pending board approval.
It’s good news for the football club, which has been under severe financial pressure for a while. As of its latest financial results, the club stated it has “a debt of €1.35bn, has generated losses in the 2020/21 season of €481m, and has a negative net worth of €451m”.
The sponsorship money will be a step towards recouping that debt and should, in theory, allow the club to begin spending on transfers again. It would not be the first time Spotify has been linked to a football club – its co-founder and chief executive Daniel Ek was reported to have extended a £2bn deal to buy Arsenal from current owner Stan Kroenke.
While talks around the deal almost certainly predate Spotify’s recent PR woes, it is a welcome boost for a platform-publisher in need of good press. Its flagship podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, has attracted criticism over the past month, with some musicians asking to be removed from the service in light of host Joe Rogan promoting disinformation and using racial slurs.
The €280m deal, which will come into effect at the end of the current season and replace Rakuten as the primary sponsor on players’ jerseys, is another huge outlay from the streaming platform.
In addition to the hundreds of millions it has committed to exclusive podcast distribution rights, Ek has also publicly committed to $100m of spending on promoting talent from marginalized communities. The company is predicted to begin delivering a profit in 2022.
It is another link in the growing relationship between US-based companies and football in Europe. Driven by a rise in interest among audiences, American and Canadian individuals and companies have invested in European teams, from businessman Duncan Niederauer becoming primary shareholder of Venezia FC in 2020 to actors Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds finishing their takeover of Wrexham AFC in February 2021.